Summary

middle school teachers image
Middle school teachers help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary schools to prepare them for the more difficult subjects and lessons in high school.
Quick Facts: Middle School Teachers
2016 Median Pay $56,720 per year
Typical Entry-Level Education Bachelor's degree
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training None
Number of Jobs, 2016 630,300
Job Outlook, 2016-26 8% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2016-26 47,300

What Middle School Teachers Do

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grades. They help students build on the fundamentals they learned in elementary school and prepare them for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.

Work Environment

Middle school teachers work in public and private schools. They generally work during school hours when students are present, and use nights and weekends to prepare lessons and grade papers. Most do not work during the summer.

How to Become a Middle School Teacher

Middle school teachers must have at least a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Pay

The median annual wage for middle school teachers was $56,720 in May 2016.

Job Outlook

Employment of middle school teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for middle school teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

State & Area Data

Explore resources for employment and wages by state and area for middle school teachers.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of middle school teachers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about middle school teachers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Middle School Teachers Do About this section

Middle school teachers
Some middle school teachers specialize in teaching a particular subject, such as science or math.

Middle school teachers educate students, typically in sixth through eighth grade. Middle school teachers help students build on the fundamentals taught in elementary school and prepare students for the more difficult curriculum they will face in high school.

Duties

Middle school teachers typically do the following:

  • Create lesson plans to teach students a subject, such as science or history
  • Assess students to evaluate their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses
  • Teach lessons they have planned to an entire class or to smaller groups
  • Grade students’ assignments and exams
  • Communicate with parents about their child’s progress
  • Work with students individually to help them overcome specific learning challenges
  • Prepare students for standardized tests required by the state
  • Develop and enforce classroom rules
  • Supervise students outside of the classroom—for example, during lunchtime or detention

Middle school teachers generally teach students from sixth to eighth grades. However, in some school districts, they may teach students as early as fourth grade or as late as ninth grade.

In many schools, middle school teachers are responsible for only some of the subjects their students learn, and see several different classes of students throughout the day. For example, one teacher may be responsible for teaching English while another may be responsible for teaching math. However, some middle school teachers are responsible for teaching every subject to a single class. Others can sometimes work in teams that teach the same group of students. These teachers meet with each other to discuss students’ progress and to plan future lessons.

Teachers use time during the day when they do not have classes to plan lessons, grade assignments, or meet with other teachers and staff.

Some middle school instructors teach specialized classes, such as art, music, physical education, or English as a second language (ESL). ESL or English for speakers of other languages (ESOL) teachers work exclusively with students who are learning the English language. These students are often referred to as English language learners (ELLs). ESL and ESOL teachers work with students individually or in groups to help them improve their English language skills and to help the students with assignments for their other classes.

Middle school teachers may also work with special education teachers to adapt lessons taught in traditional classes to meet the needs of students with learning disabilities and emotional or behavioral disorders. In some cases, middle school teachers may co-teach lessons with special education teachers.

Teachers must be comfortable with using and learning new technology. They may use websites to communicate with parents about students’ assignments, upcoming events, and grades. For their students, teachers may create websites or discussion boards to present information or to expand a lesson taught in class.

Some middle school teachers coach sports teams and advise student clubs and groups, whose practices and meetings frequently take place before or after school.

Work Environment About this section

Middle school teachers
Middle school teachers may advise clubs or meet with students and parents before or after school.

Middle school teachers held about 630,300 jobs in 2016. The largest employers of middle school teachers were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local 85%
Elementary and secondary schools; private 13

Most states have tenure laws, which provide job security after a certain number of years of satisfactory teaching.

Watching students develop new skills and gain an appreciation for knowledge and learning can be very rewarding. However, teaching may be stressful. Some schools have large classes and lack important teaching tools, such as current technology and textbooks.

Working with middle school students also can be challenging because the students are becoming adolescents and teachers need to be able to understand what they are going through outside of the classroom. Some states are developing teacher mentoring programs and teacher development courses to help with the challenges of being a teacher.

Work Schedules

Middle school teachers generally work during school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school. They often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

Many work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers teach summer programs.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row and then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

How to Become a Middle School Teacher About this section

Middle school teachers
Middle school teachers need good communications skills in order to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Middle school teachers must have a bachelor’s degree. In addition, public school teachers must have a state-issued certification or license.

Education

All states require public middle school teachers to have at least a bachelor’s degree. Many states require middle school teachers to major in a content area, such as math or science. Other states require middle school teachers to major in elementary education. Middle school teachers typically enroll in their college’s teacher preparation program and take classes in education and child psychology in addition to the classes required by their major.

Teacher education programs teach prospective middle school teachers how to present information to students and how to work with students of varying abilities and backgrounds. Programs typically include a student-teaching program, in which they work with a mentor teacher and get experience teaching students in a classroom setting. For information about teacher preparation programs in your state, visit Teach.org.

Some states require middle school teachers to earn a master’s degree after receiving their teaching certification and obtaining a job.

Teachers in private schools do not need to meet state requirements. However, private schools typically seek middle school teachers who have a bachelor’s degree and a major in elementary education or a content area.

Licenses, Certifications, and Registrations

All states require teachers in public schools to be licensed or certified in the specific grade level that they will teach. Those who teach in private schools typically do not need a license. Requirements for certification or licensure vary by state but generally involve the following:

  • A bachelor’s degree with a minimum grade point average
  • Completion of a teacher preparation program and supervised experience in teaching, which is typically gained through student teaching
  • Passing a background check
  • Passing a general teaching certification test, as well as a test that demonstrates their knowledge of the subject they will teach.

For information on certification requirements in your state, visit Teach.org. Teachers are often required to complete annual professional development classes to keep their license or certification. Some states require teachers to complete a master’s degree after receiving their certification and obtaining a job.

All states offer an alternative route to certification or licensure for people who already have a bachelor’s degree but lack the education courses required for certification. Some alternative certification programs allow candidates to begin teaching immediately under the supervision of an experienced teacher. These programs cover teaching methods and child development. After they complete the program, candidates are awarded full certification. Other programs require students to take classes in education before they can teach. Students may be awarded a master’s degree after completing either of these programs.

Important Qualities

Communication skills. Teachers must collaborate with other teachers and special education teachers. In addition, they need to discuss students’ needs with parents and administrators.

Patience. Working with students of different abilities and backgrounds can be difficult. Middle school teachers must be patient when students struggle with material.

Physical stamina. Working with middle school aged students can be tiring. Teachers need to physically, mentally, and emotionally keep up with the students.

Resourcefulness. Middle school teachers need to explain difficult concepts in terms that students can understand. In addition, they need to get students engaged in learning and adapt lessons to each student’s needs.

Advancement

Experienced teachers can advance to serve as mentors to newer teachers or to become lead teachers. In these positions, they help less experienced teachers to improve their teaching skills.

With additional education or certification, teachers may become school counselors, school librarians, or instructional coordinators. Some become assistant principals or principals, both of which generally require additional education in education administration or leadership. For more information, see the profiles on school and career counselors, librarians, instructional coordinators, and elementary, middle, and high school principals.

Pay About this section

Middle School Teachers

Median annual wages, May 2016

Middle school teachers

$56,720

Preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers

$54,720

Total, all occupations

$37,040

 

The median annual wage for middle school teachers was $56,720 in May 2016. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $37,810, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $89,120.

In May 2016, the median annual wages for middle school teachers in the top industries in which they worked were as follows:

Elementary and secondary schools; local $57,640
Elementary and secondary schools; private 48,110

Middle school teachers generally work school hours when students are present. They may meet with parents, students, and other teachers before and after school. Teachers who coach sports or advise clubs generally do so before or after school. Teachers often spend time in the evenings and on weekends grading papers and preparing lessons.

Many work the traditional 10-month school year and have a 2-month break during the summer. They also have a short midwinter break. Some teachers teach summer programs which they are paid for.

Teachers in districts with a year-round schedule typically work 9 weeks in a row then have a break for 3 weeks before starting a new school session.

Union Membership

Compared with workers in all occupations, middle school teachers had a higher percentage of workers who belonged to a union in 2016.

Job Outlook About this section

Middle School Teachers

Percent change in employment, projected 2016-26

Preschool, primary, secondary, and special education school teachers

8%

Middle school teachers

8%

Total, all occupations

7%

 

Employment of middle school teachers is projected to grow 8 percent from 2016 to 2026, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Rising student enrollment should increase demand for middle school teachers, but employment growth will vary by region.

The number of students in public middle schools is expected to increase over the coming decade, and the number of classes needed to accommodate these students is projected to rise. As a result, more teachers will be required to teach public middle school students.

Despite expected increases in enrollment in public schools, employment growth for middle school teachers often depends on state and local government budgets. If state and local governments experience budget deficits, they may lay off employees, including teachers. Conversely, budget surpluses at the state and local level could lead to additional employment growth for middle school teachers.

Job Prospects

From 2016 to 2026, a significant number of older teachers are expected to reach retirement age. Their retirement will increase the need to replace workers who leave the occupation.

Opportunities will vary by region and school setting. There may be better opportunities in urban and rural school districts than in suburban school districts. Flexibility in job location may increase job prospects.

Employment projections data for middle school teachers, 2016-26
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2016 Projected Employment, 2026 Change, 2016-26 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Middle school teachers, except special and career/technical education

25-2022 630,300 677,700 8 47,300 employment projections excel document xlsx

State & Area Data About this section

Occupational Employment Statistics (OES)

The Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program produces employment and wage estimates annually for over 800 occupations. These estimates are available for the nation as a whole, for individual states, and for metropolitan and nonmetropolitan areas. The link(s) below go to OES data maps for employment and wages by state and area.

Projections Central

Occupational employment projections are developed for all states by Labor Market Information (LMI) or individual state Employment Projections offices. All state projections data are available at www.projectionscentral.com. Information on this site allows projected employment growth for an occupation to be compared among states or to be compared within one state. In addition, states may produce projections for areas; there are links to each state’s websites where these data may be retrieved.

CareerOneStop

CareerOneStop includes hundreds of occupational profiles with data available by state and metro area. There are links in the left-hand side menu to compare occupational employment by state and occupational wages by local area or metro area. There is also a salary info tool to search for wages by zip code.

Similar Occupations About this section

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of middle school teachers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION Help 2016 MEDIAN PAY Help
Career and technical education teachers

Career and Technical Education Teachers

Career and technical education teachers instruct students in various technical and vocational subjects, such as auto repair, healthcare, and culinary arts. They teach academic and technical content to provide students with the skills and knowledge necessary to enter an occupation.

Bachelor's degree $54,020
Child care workers

Childcare Workers

Childcare workers attend to the basic needs of children, such as dressing, bathing, feeding, and overseeing play. They may help younger children prepare for kindergarten or assist older children with homework.

High school diploma or equivalent $21,170
Elementary, middle, and high school principals

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals manage all school operations, including daily school activities. They coordinate curriculums, oversee teachers and other school staff, and provide a safe and productive learning environment for students.

Master's degree $92,510
High school teachers

High School Teachers

High school teachers help prepare students for life after graduation. They teach academic lessons and various skills that students will need to attend college and to enter the job market.

Bachelor's degree $58,030
Instructional coordinators

Instructional Coordinators

Instructional coordinators oversee school curriculums and teaching standards. They develop instructional material, coordinate its implementation with teachers and principals, and assess its effectiveness.

Master's degree $62,460
Librarians

Librarians

Librarians help people find information and conduct research for personal and professional use. Their job duties may change based on the type of library they work in, such as public, academic, and medical libraries.

Master's degree $57,680
Postsecondary teachers

Postsecondary Teachers

Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a wide variety of academic and technical subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books.

See How to Become One $75,430
Preschool teachers

Preschool Teachers

Preschool teachers educate and care for children younger than age 5 who have not yet entered kindergarten. They teach language, motor, and social skills to young children.

Associate's degree $28,790
School and Career Counselors

School and Career Counselors

School counselors help students develop the academic and social skills needed to succeed in school. Career counselors help people choose careers and follow a path to employment.

Master's degree $54,560
Social workers

Social Workers

Social workers help people solve and cope with problems in their everyday lives. Clinical social workers also diagnose and treat mental, behavioral, and emotional issues.

See How to Become One $46,890
Special education teachers

Special Education Teachers

Special education teachers work with students who have a wide range of learning, mental, emotional, and physical disabilities. They adapt general education lessons and teach various subjects, such as reading, writing, and math, to students with mild and moderate disabilities. They also teach basic skills, such as literacy and communication techniques, to students with severe disabilities.

Bachelor's degree $57,910
Teacher assistants

Teacher Assistants

Teacher assistants work under a teacher’s supervision to give students additional attention and instruction.

Some college, no degree $25,410
Kindergarten and elementary school teachers

Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers

Kindergarten and elementary school teachers instruct young students in basic subjects, such as math and reading, in order to prepare them for future schooling.

Bachelor's degree $55,490
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Middle School Teachers,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/middle-school-teachers.htm (visited November 01, 2017).

Last Modified Date: Tuesday, October 24, 2017

What They Do

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Work Environment

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How to Become One

The How to Become One tab describes how to prepare for a job in the occupation. This tab can include information on education, training, work experience, licensing and certification, and important qualities that are required or helpful for entering or working in the occupation.

Pay

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State & Area Data

The State and Area Data tab provides links to state and area occupational data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) program, state projections data from Projections Central, and occupational information from the Department of Labor's CareerOneStop.

Job Outlook

The Job Outlook tab describes the factors that affect employment growth or decline in the occupation, and in some instances, describes the relationship between the number of job seekers and the number of job openings.

Similar Occupations

The Similar Occupations tab describes occupations that share similar duties, skills, interests, education, or training with the occupation covered in the profile.

Contacts for More Information

The More Information tab provides the Internet addresses of associations, government agencies, unions, and other organizations that can provide additional information on the occupation. This tab also includes links to relevant occupational information from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET).

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

Work experience in a related occupation

Work experience that is commonly considered necessary by employers, or is a commonly accepted substitute for more formal types of training or education.

Number of Jobs, 2016

The employment, or size, of this occupation in 2016, which is the base year of the 2016-26 employment projections.

Job Outlook, 2016-26

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026. The average growth rate for all occupations is 7 percent.

Employment Change, 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Entry-level Education

Typical level of education that most workers need to enter this occupation.

On-the-job Training

Additional training needed (postemployment) to attain competency in the skills needed in this occupation.

Employment Change, projected 2016-26

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Growth Rate (Projected)

The percent change of employment for each occupation from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Number of New Jobs

The projected numeric change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

Projected Growth Rate

The projected percent change in employment from 2016 to 2026.

2016 Median Pay

The wage at which half of the workers in the occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. Median wage data are from the BLS Occupational Employment Statistics survey. In May 2016, the median annual wage for all workers was $37,040.